Kendo Nagasaki’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations:
a Magical and Mystical Evening at The Retreat.

50 years... It’s no mean span of time in anyone’s book – perhaps two thirds of a lifetime – yet throughout this time, we have all known the presence of someone (something?) remarkable – that beacon of dynamism, power, and inspiration known as Kendo Nagasaki. What is perhaps most remarkable of all is how Kendo’s presence, the aura he radiates, the extent to which he inspires and empowers us, is no less potent today than it ever was. This is still borne out in the comments of those who meet Kendo close-up when they attend the Events held at The Retreat, and Kendo’s 50th Anniversary Celebration was no exception…

Firstly, the event was announced on Kendo’s website, and news of it spread rapidly across social media. Typically of Kendo, there was a challenge associated with gaining a place at the celebrations – to secure an invitation, those wishing to attend would have to write about their first experience of Kendo, and be prepared to read it out to him at the celebration. This was genuinely a test – for any of us recalling our first experience of Kendo, we find that there’s much to say – but how can it all be said, with the right words, coherently, with the passion it deserves, as a brief spoken tribute? Kendo clearly understood the magnitude of the task he had set, so a generous deadline was set; unsurprisingly, no tributes appeared immediately – the deep-thinking around the UK could almost be felt!

When the deadline came, Kendo had a stack of writing to choose from; indeed, he had given himself plenty of time between the deadline for submissions and the announcement of those thirteen who would be “readers” on the night. The standard of the submissions was excellent; from heart-felt descriptions of awe and even terror, to poetic verses, some of which referred to Gorgeous George Gillett, to the many ways in which people had been inspired by Kendo, a vivid spectrum of his impact upon people had been fervently set down, the words almost leaping off the paper…

It was decided that the 50th Anniversary itself should reference that fateful November 13th back in 1964 – Kendo would appear as close as possible to the very minute that he first appeared at ring-side at Willenhall Baths for his first-ever (victorious) match. Furthermore, as Kendo continues to be such a source of power and inspiration as he has been throughout this last half-century, he would lead his guests in an Empowerment Affirmation Ceremony, to take place in the 50th Anniversary commemorative cherry tree orchard, to be followed by a night-time tour of the illuminated grounds. And since his guests were to spend time outside on a November evening, they should be given a hearty meal which was in keeping with that first November night in Willenhall, of pie, mash, and mushy peas, followed by apple pie and custard! As they rightly say on that neck of the woods, "Bostin'!"

Special Guests Blondie Barrett and his wife Wendy are warmly welcomed.

A further significant event which would take place on the 50th Anniversary was the launch of Kendo’s first-ever movie, entitled “The English Samurai”, and guests could get their copies commemoratively autographed on the actual Anniversary, and, though unannounced, there was also an opportunity for one of the guests to win a commemorative black Kendo wrestling mask which had been specially hand-embroidered with the Japanese number 50, and framed.

None of the details of the evening were released beforehand – invitees were only told that they should dress appropriately for spending some time outside, in the grounds of The Retreat, but things became clearer as they arrived, and took their seats for the meal. A souvenir programme had been made for the Anniversary, which outlined the evening’s events, and had been positioned at each place setting, along with a Kendo Nagasaki Empowerment Affirmation Stick, upon which the guests could write any wish, aspiration or affirmation for themselves or anyone else – it was these Affirmation Sticks which were to be burned in a symbolic fire after the meal.

Once everyone had found a seat at the long tables set up in The Seminar Room and The Terrace Room, there was a surprise – joining the invited guests for the meal and the evening was Kendo’s long-time tag-team partner, Blondie Barrett, accompanied by his wife, Wendy. The guests warmly applauded Blondie, and he took his seat to join them.

When it was time for the serving of the meal to commence, Atlantis adopted a character perhaps more familiar to a wrestling audience! She welcomed all the “…disciples of Kendo Nagasaki…”, a customary greeting, and proceeded to observe that she could see he would be facing a “…dangerous and hostile audience..!” “But he’s the match of all of you!” she yelled at the guests, “so you’d better eat up!” Appropriate semi-jeering followed – the atmosphere was tremendous. Atlantis then said a Buddhist grace (the Five Reflections), and the guests were served their meal.

Next came the exodus to the cherry tree orchard; the guests were led through The Retreat’s conservatory and to a pathway below the orchard, where they were greeted by a most spectacular sight – each tree in the orchard had been lit with a single candle lantern, and the sight of so many points of light curving away into the darkness was quite magical. There was also a brazier on a paved triangle within the orchard, where Kendo would conduct his stick burning ceremony. The guests were led to paths below the brazier, and Atlantis explained the spirituality of the ceremony – it was rooted in Shintoism, whereby the spirits of nature are acknowledged and respected (similarly to ancient British Paganism), and Atlantis explained that this similarity gave Kendo’s Shinto ceremony great power to the British people. The hopes, wishes, and aspirations inscribed on the Empowerment Affirmation Sticks would be released to the deities of nature upon burning, as each guest acknowledged their part in the great, organic, big-picture of divine nature.

At the conclusion of Atlantis’s explanation, the time had come – the exact time of Kendo Nagasaki’s first ever appearance in public 50 years before – and now he appeared again, dressed all in black yet defined by his aura, a towering figure, radiating confidence and authority, striding through the applause to begin his mystical ceremony.

Kendo took time and great care with each Empowerment Affirmation Stick, pausing in momentary meditation with each one before striking a particularly melodic singing bowl to alert the deities that a soul’s wishes were about to be released to them; Kendo paused again as he carefully cast each stick into the brazier, and then returned to the guest who’d given him the stick, and bowed to them. The entire stick-burning process was mystical and meditative in itself – against the background of the 50 candle lanterns glittering in the dark, the crackling and roaring of the brazier, Kendo’s swift, deliberate movements, all the guests watched on, held in a most special mystical moment on an English November’s evening.

There then followed a walk around the grounds of The Retreat, a unique experience not only for those who hadn’t visited previously, but also for those who had only seen them during daylight. All the areas central to Kendo’s symbolism and meditative practices, including The Pavilion, The Koi Pond, The Contemplation Seat, The Tree of Souls, The Hidden Garden, The Kamakura Garden, and the pathways between them were all expertly illuminated, and in the dense November darkness they shone with a new mysticism and depth. As they travelled around the grounds, among those present there was a feeling of being enclosed in a cocoon of Kendo’s wisdom and strength, symbolised in different ways by the eerie beauty and calm mysticism surrounding them. With a final walk past the still-candle-lit cherry trees, invigorated yet stilled and healed all at once, it was time to return to The Retreat for another cup of tea, and the reading of the Tributes.

The reading of the 13 "First Experience" tributes begins...

When everyone was seated in The Seminar Room, Kendo appeared once again from his private apartments to strong applause, announced by Atlantis. She introduced each speaker, and the tributes were read to Kendo; the recollections were sometimes amusing, sometimes poetic, sometimes thankful, but they were all awed, all deeply respectful, and – as Kendo had chosen – all perfect tributes for a 50th Anniversary. Once again, the atmosphere virtually glowed with admiration and respect for Kendo, and once again, it was an excellent and exquisite moment to be a part of.

It was then time for the draw for the secret and extra-special framed 50th Anniversary Kendo Mask, and Blondie Barratt was called-upon to perform the draw. The winner was someone who had not previously attended The Retreat, and he seemed genuinely overwhelmed – speechless, in fact!

After Blondie does the draw, the 50th Anniversary mask finds a new home.

Finally, there was the opportunity for guests to have items autographed by Kendo, and have their photographs taken with him – this was done in his “Sanctuary” off The Seminar Room, a place for his deepest of meditations. At the same time, Kendo’s new movie, “The English Samurai” was made available at a special “Anniversary” price, and, of course, guests could have their copies autographed on that Anniversary evening. An exquisite gesture by many of the guests was the giving of Anniversary gifts to Kendo, which they did while getting photos and autographs. A gallery of the gifts has been put up on Kendo’s Blog.

While a long yet orderly queue formed for Kendo’s autograph and photos with him, guests chatted and shared anecdotes, and also examined the other points of interest at The Retreat, including the display cabinet containing Kendo’s original judo outfit and two mannequins bearing both the earliest and latest versions of the kendo armour he wore to the wrestling ring, the Japanese artefacts displayed in The Seminar Room and The Retreat’s reception area, and the pictures of Kendo on the walls of The Terrace Room. The guests were also treated to yet more tea, this time accompanied by hot mince pies and cream, which went down very well!

In the days following Kendo’s Anniversary, a great many highly appreciative messages were received at The Retreat, expressing deep gratitude for such a warm, welcoming, fascinating, and mystical evening with Kendo. Many messages mentioned the enduring energy and uniquely-powerful presence which Kendo radiates, and this is perhaps unsurprising – Kendo has set up The Retreat so that he can share his empowerment with anyone who asks for it, and even coming for a single evening, let alone to one of his special “Event” days, seems to have illustrated to the guests on that night the power he has, and is ready to share. Kendo always intended his Anniversary Celebrations to be a very special event for his much-appreciated followers, and he is ready to invite them back (and newcomers too) to The Retreat for even greater and more in-depth insights into his strength, mysticism, and ways of empowerment.

Pictures of Kendo with many more of the guests at his Anniversary are in the following

section of the Blog.


To see a full review of Kendo's new movie, "The English Samurai", which was launched on the evening of Kendo's 50th Anniversary, click HERE. There is also a Trailer available, and here's a link to Buy the movie.


Keep checking Kendo's Blog for updated information.